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Know your rights: Lemon law applies to most vehicles

By By Richard Alderman
July 5, 2014 at 2:05 a.m.


Does the Texas Lemon Law apply to a motorcycle?

The Texas Lemon Law gives you the right to relief if a new vehicle you purchase is not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts. The law applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor homes and all terrain vehicles. For more information or to file a complaint, visit txdmv.gov and search lemon law or call 888-368-4689.

About 10 years ago, I did business with a company and never paid my bills. I was shocked to find out that it still refuses to deal with me until I pay. Isn't there some sort of limitations period for collecting a debt?

There are limitation periods for any type of legal action. For example, the statute of limitations bars a lawsuit for a debt after four years. There also are limits on how long such information may be reported on your credit report. In most cases, after seven years, the information becomes obsolete and cannot be reported.

There are no limitations, however, on how long you "owe" a debt. In fact, until it is paid, the money is owed. If the person to whom you owe the money does not want to deal with you until the debt is paid, he or she has a legal right to do so. It may seem shocking to you, but it is obviously a matter of some importance to the person to whom you owe the money.

I know someone who never got divorced and now lives with his common law wife. How can someone have a common-law marriage if they are already married?

You cannot have two wives. A common law marriage is no different from any other form of marriage. You may be married to only one person. Until you get a divorce, you cannot have another marriage, common law or otherwise.

If you loan someone money and there is no type of legally binding agreement - only verbal - what type of action can be taken to retrieve funds?

In most cases, when you loan someone money, he or she signs a promissory note, acknowledging the loan and promising to repay it. You seem to think that there is no "legally binding agreement," however, because you do not have anything in writing. If you loaned the person money and he or she agreed to pay you back, you have a "legally binding agreement," even if it is oral. It would be easier to collect if you had a signed writing, but it is not necessary. You can file a claim in justice court to collect, but you will have to prove the loan and promise to repay.

I want to make it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive by a machine. Can I write my own living will? Is there any special language I should use?

As you seem to understand, the best way to ensure that your wishes regarding the decision to be kept alive by life support is to make sure you clearly spell out what you want to happen in the event you have a terminal condition. You can do this by a document you prepare, but I strongly suggest you use the form the state of Texas has prepared.

An advanced directive, commonly called a living will, allows you to specify the treatment you would want in the event you had a terminal condition and death was imminent. The document is a simple-to-understand form, and is available free from my website below.

For a free copy of a living will or more information about your legal rights, visit peopleslawyer.net.

Richard Alderman, a consumer advocate popularly known as "the People's Lawyer," is a professor at the University of Houston Law School in Houston. His column appears weekly in the Victoria Advocate. Write to him at UH Law Center, Houston, TX 77204-6391. He also maintains a website at peopleslawyer.net.

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